Scythe Robotics Releases Open-Source CAN-based Development Platform for Autonomous Lawn Mower

Scythe said it felt compelled to make the software after seeing how limited the available options were.

Scythe Robotics

Scythe Robotics has deployed its systems in Florida, Texas, and Colorado.
Scythe Robotics said it is committed to providing more open-source services in the future.

Scythe Robotics has released CANfetti, its first open-source project designed to make integrating new components into autonomous lawn mower easier. CANfetti is an implementation of CANOpen, a communication protocol based on the Controller Area Network, or CAN bus.  

Scythe Robotics uses an automotive-grade CAN bus as the “backbone” of its autonomous mower, the M.52. The company said it developed CANfentti because it found other open-source CAN frameworks “too constraining.”   

“Given the complex communication needs across the range of specialized components in Scythe M.52, we knew we’d have to leverage a higher-level CAN protocol,” said Matt Quick, lead firmware engineer at Scythe, in a statement. “A number of our vendors already support CANopen, making it a great fit for us. But as advantageous as CANopen is, the available open source libraries were frankly a headache to integrate and had severe functional limitations, so we built our own solution.”

It highlighted its motor controllers as an example. Using existing CANopen stacks, the company struggled to get them to work properly with the M.52. But with CANfetti it said it was able to “integrate these and other critical components into M.52, resulting in much better machine performance.”

Scythe brings new features to CANopen

Scythe introduced several new features designed to make development easier. One of those includes the ability to use dynamic Object Dictionary types “ranging from std::string to an index assignable callback.” That allows applications to “completely control the reading and writing of an entry at the byte level,” it said.  

The company added that its API is more flexible than most and “provides engineers with a drop-in CANopen stack that doesn't get in the way and simply lets them build their system around it.”

“Most open source CANopen libraries are no longer actively being developed, with many abandoned libraries sitting in various states of disrepair and becoming rapidly outdated without community or commercial support,” the company said in a press release. “CANfetti represents Scythe’s first step in its commitment to updating and expanding the open-source firmware ecosystem.”

In an interview with Robotics 24/7 Davis Foster, Scythe Robotics co-founder and hardware lead, said the company wanted to give back to the community with CANfetti's release.

“We use a lot of other people's open source software, and we benefit greatly from it. It's an opportunity for us to give back. It's an opportunity to highlight some of the work that our engineers are doing.”

CANfetti can be used on a range of platforms to develop for a variety of industries. Scythe highlighted railway logistics and maritime electronics.  

To access CANfetti, visit its GitHub

The Next Generation of Scythe M.52

About the Author

Cesareo Contreras's avatar
Cesareo Contreras
Cesareo Contreras was associate editor at Robotics 24/7. Prior to working at Peerless Media, he was an award-winning reporter at the Metrowest Daily News and Milford Daily News in Massachusetts. Contreras is a graduate of Framingham State University and has a keen interest in the human side of emerging technologies.
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Scythe Robotics

Scythe Robotics has deployed its systems in Florida, Texas, and Colorado.

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